When you have had whiplash, concussion, trauma or head injury, the brain and nervous system may adapt in ways that make it hard to resume normal life. You may find problems with walking, thinking, speaking, memory and learning. You may have lost awareness of a part of your body. You may have exaggerated fear or anger reactions without the pre-injury emotional balance you and your family were accustomed to. You may be hypersensitive to noise or sounds, have sleep disturbances, or pain.
Acquired brain injury (ABI, formerly called traumatic brain injury, TBI) means that your nerves may be fragile. Treating them gently and with awareness of how they work is a specialty practiced by neurologically trained massage therapists. Our training is an offshoot of Chiropractic Functional Neurology1 (see posts How Does Functional Neurology Massage Work?, Neuro Massage, Functional Neuro Research, Cutting Edge).
Massage by itself brings a relaxed state that is necessary for healing, the parasympathetic state of “rest and digest” that counters the hypervigilant state of “fight or flight”. Neuro massage offers new ways to recognize how emotional, cognitive, and body symptoms interact, and new take home exercises for:
• Head trauma
• Brain fog, memory and concentration
• Numbness and tingling
• Chronic pain of unknown cause
• Dizziness or gait imbalance
Rosi’s background and philosophy
I have also had a lifetime of personal experience as I have recovered from Acquired Brain Injury. I trained in functional neurology massage to offer my skills to others. I know how important it is to develop body awareness, practice self-love and self-compassion. I acknowledge pain and reframe it rather than suffer through it. I know that there are physical, emotional, social, memory and cognitive processes that may have been shaken up by a head injury.
Mindfulness training, such as Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (Jon Kabat-Zinn) is very helpful. Massage, Ortho-Bionomy® and breathwork can help you relax, recover from trauma and listen to your body again. I support you to do what you can for yourself.
Why do I need a neuro assessment?
I modify the massage with the info from a mini-neuro assessment. It helps me know where and how to meet your individual needs. I will check such things as blood pressure and pulse, strength and reflexes, eye movements and balance. I compare left to right.
If these show that there is a difference, I can help your brain function better by how I focus the bodywork. I may massage just on one side of the body, or have you do simple exercises. Just like strength training builds muscles, your nervous system needs exercises to rebuild balance. Self-care is essential for healing.
How is this different from regular massage?
During your recovery, it is important to not overdo it. Functional neuro assessments and treatments can help me know where to work, how to work, and when to stop. The idea is to activate healthy changes, or neuroplasticity, to get the nervous system to repair itself.
Some commonly known massage techniques provide too much stimulation. Others encourage you to be too passive, and much of the neuroplasticity research2 shows that what you do for yourself is what gets your nerve pathways to reconnect. I act as a guide for you to be engaged in your recovery.
New neural pathways are also supported by good nutrition that feeds the brain and nervous system. If a nerve does not have adequate oxygen, nutrients, and stimulation, it will shut down on some of what it does in order to conserve resources. Nerves that are weak or fragile may lead to symptoms of fatigue, insomnia, depression, trouble walking, dizziness, autoimmune issues, or hypersensitivity. How your brain is wired can mean nutritional, structural, immune, circulatory and digestive issues might arise after a trauma or head injury. I can refer you to practitioners who work in these fields to help you heal.
I am not a doctor. I usually work in conjunction with your medical doctor, chiropractor, naturopath or chiropractic functional neurologist. They can diagnose injuries, do metabolic and dietary analyses of deficiencies, prescribe corrective supplements, prescribe anti-inflammatory or other medications, perform more comprehensive functional neurological assessments, and treat you for other issues that are outside my scope of practice.
In addition to having all the normal brain communications disrupted by a process called “synaptic shearing” after a head injury, the brain may be on alert as if the threat of the trauma is still there. You may find anger erupts with no warning or panic from driving a car again. Unusual emotional reactions are often an issue for people with frontal lobe brain damage after head injury.
Massage is well known to benefit the nervous system, calm emotions, induce relaxation, relieve pain, and stimulate communications across the brain and between the brain and the body. I also use the approach from Ortho-Bionomy of empowering you, honoring your body’s wisdom, listening to the body’s intelligence.
Call to schedule a free half-hour consultation to find if functional neurological massage and Ortho-Bionomy with emotional integration can benefit you, or help you with recovery from a head injury. 503-708-2911.